Gingrich defends immigration policies
November 25th, 2011
07:34 PM ET
11 years ago

Gingrich defends immigration policies

(CNN) – GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich sought to stand strong against illegal immigration Friday after rivals blasted him this week as a supporter of amnesty for millions of undocumented immigrants.

“I am not for amnesty for 11 million people. I’m actually not for amnesty for anyone. I’m not for a path to citizenship for any people who are out here illegally, ” Gingrich said forcefully at a town hall event in Naples, Florida. “But I am for a path to legality for those people whose ties run so deeply in America that it would truly be a tragedy to try and rip their family apart.”

Gingrich drew fire at Tuesday’s CNN Republican National Security Debate when he said he was “prepared to take the heat” for arguing that the GOP should take a “humane” position on longtime illegal immigrants by finding another way to “legality” that avoids breaking up families.

His opponents onstage pounced on his comments, and on Tuesday Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann took to the airwaves to blast Gingrich as “liberal” on illegal immigration and as a proponent of amnesty.

On Wednesday, he engaged in a back-and-forth with fellow GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, pointing to a 2007 interview in which the former Massachusetts governor said longtime illegal immigrants should "be able to stay, sign up for permanent residency or citizenship."

Romney’s campaign fired back, arguing that the video had been taken out of context and provided a fuller clip of the interview, in which Romney later said: “But they should not be given a special pathway, a special guarantee that all of them get to stay here for the rest of their lives merely by virtue of having come here illegally.”

The former House speaker insisted Friday night that he was anything but soft on the issue. He said controlling the border and making English the official language would be among his first tasks as president. He also called for a guest worker program, but only if it imposed harsh penalties on anyone who hires workers without documentation.

“I would have very, very stiff economic penalties for anyone who hires somebody who is not legally inside the system,” Gingrich said. “I would be very tough.”

Talking about Tuesday’s debate, Gingrich said his opponents had grossly twisted his words and he chided the GOP field for being unable to have an “honest, serious discussion about real solutions.”

He said the point he tried to make on Tuesday was that he believes the vast majority of illegal immigrants should be deported – with a few exceptions.

“I do think if somebody in your neighborhood has been here 25 years and they belong in your church, and they have three kids and two grandkids, and they've been paying taxes and working hard the entire time, it's going to be very, very hard to get the American people to believe that we ought to tear up those families and expel them,” he said.

Instead, he proposed that the country adopt a system used during World War II, in which communities made the decision as to who stays and who goes.

“They really tried to take general policy and give it a human face,” Gingrich said.

He insisted, however, that anyone who remains would qualify only for legal status and not American citizenship, “unless they go home and they apply through the regular procedures back home and get in line behind everybody else.”

soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. idb

    What Gingrich "forgets" is that amnesty has been tried before and failed miserably. Any form of amnesty for these criminals will lead to the influx of ever more. Hence, enforcing the law, with the focus on cracking down on those that employ or support illegal aliens is the answer.

    November 26, 2011 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  2. MaryM

    Newt is NOT presidential material. Period

    November 26, 2011 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  3. Sorensen

    It is sickening to see all those ugly pictures of Gingrich. He is a loser and will never be elected to anything.

    November 26, 2011 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  4. Odin999

    This policy is a bad idea. It will only encourage more illegal immigration. The only real answer is for the Federal Government to start enforcing the law. Deport all illegal aliens, secure the border and fine anyone who hires an illegal. That is the law, but no one has enforced this law in 25 years and now we have millions of illegals here.

    November 26, 2011 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  5. mabel floyd

    i can not stand this smarmy piece of trash, but as much as it pains me to say -he is right in this instance-

    November 26, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Well, Newt did not last long at the top of the heap of clowns. With the anyone but Mittens crowd, you have to wonder who will be the next clown that right wingnuts will support? T-Rump may have another shot when they go full circle. After all, birthers are stupid people.

    November 26, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  7. bud

    CNN is doing it's part to get Romney the nomination because they know conservatives like me won't vote for him

    November 26, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  8. diridi

    this idiots wants votes...pass e-verify...o.k,

    November 26, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  9. jd

    Hey Newt, who's your new girl friend today. You have not had a newbie in years.

    November 26, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  10. PJ Young

    I think Newt has it right and as he said any reasonable person would know that not one politician is willing to try to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants. Deport the thugs and gang members and recent entrants but those who have been here a long time and whose children grew up here give them a way to stay but not citizenship. Secure the borders and then fix the system.

    November 26, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  11. Chris Parker

    "I’m not for a path to citizenship for ANY people who are out here illegally." "But, I am for a path to legality for those people whose ties run so deeply in America that it would truly be a tragedy to try and rip their family apart." Mr. Gingrich, whouldn't the usage of the word "ANY" in your first statement include the usage of the phrased "those people" in your second statemetn? Which is it Sir?

    November 26, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  12. Don

    There are literally no politicians in any political party that are worthy being elected to our country's highest office. Nobody gets it. Politicians do not understand the turmoil America is going through. Poor economy, no jobs, homeless, illegals, mutiple wars on several fronts, wall street, housing foreclosures, violence in our streets, borders unprotected and many other issues. Nobody wants to put the American people first. Why is that? Why can't we stop sending aid to foreign countries that hate us? Why can't we send illegals back where they came from until they enter our country legally. Why can't we keep jobs in this country and stop worrying about sending our jobs to countries with slave labor that can make products cheaper than us. Why can't we take back our country and make it the best country in the world again like it once was. Why can't we stop the corporate greed? Democrats and Republicans are at each other's throats. Until we can unite and find a leader that cares more about America than they do about themselves we are just failing in every regard.

    November 26, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  13. Nord Jim

    Let me get this straight. He's not in favor of amnesty, except when he is? More double-talk from Brother Newton.

    November 26, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  14. Publius

    "Bachmann took to the airwaves to blast Gingrich as 'liberal'"

    You guys might want to choose a different word. This one's taken. "LIberal" already has a meaning. You can look it up.

    How about "boogieman?"

    November 26, 2011 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
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